NHL Week in Review (January 8-14)

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There is still some time before the NHL general managers get to one of their busiest times of the year as the Trade Deadline is on March 1.

That date always marks a time in the NHL season where the teams in the league truly figure out where they stand.

It is the date where the team decides to load up and make a run at the playoffs or to unload and prepare for the future.

It is essentially the date when the best teams separate themselves from everyone else and the bad teams accept their fate.

It doesn’t always take that long for teams to figure out where they stand though as there are teams that are already accepting their fate.

One of those teams this year is the Colorado Avalanche who have sunk to the bottom of the league this year.

It seemed odd when former goalie and head coach Patrick Roy stepped away from one of the only teams he wanted to coach before this season began.

He cited differences between management and himself in how the team was being managed and everyone assumed it was Roy being Roy and having a temper tantrum.

It seems to be something deeper now as the Avalanche had shown a little promise in the first few weeks but they have gotten worse every single week.

They are sitting at the bottom of the league and their playoff hopes are mathematically possible but virtually non-existent.

The Avs are not going to make the playoffs and it seemed like Roy knew it, which would be why he left before he was a part of the sinking ship.

With their bad season, the Avs are reportedly preparing for a major rebuild as they shop around some of their top players looking to get prospects or pieces to put on their team heading into the off-season.

They already got rid of one piece trading one of their longest tenured players in Cody McLeod to Nashville for Felix Girard.

Granted, McLeod is not one of their best players but he was a big piece of their leadership and it seems like it is only the start of their moves.

Jarome Iginla seems to be on his way out as the veteran understandably wants to play for a competitive team with only a few years left in his career.

Reports have also surfaced that the Avalanche are shopping captain Gabriel Landeskog, albeit for a very high price, and offensive star Matt Duchene.

According to Joe Sakic, the team’s Executive VP of hockey operations, the only players that will not be considered in trade talks will be Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Tyson Jost.hockey-sidebar

From that comment, it is clear that these three young stars are the building blocks for the future of the Avs while everyone else is free game for the right price.

As they begin their rebuild the Avalanche are hoping that they avoid the issues that have haunted other teams in the past.

They are headed towards the same pattern that the Edmonton Oilers were headed towards before they won a lottery to be able to draft one of the best players in the game, Connor McDavid.

The Oilers for years sat at the bottom of the league and drafted top prospects all of them were supposed to change the fate of the team.

The Avalanche started this process years ago when they drafted Matt Duchene in 2009 as the third overall pick and then two years later drafted Landeskog as their future leader.

In 2013 they got the player they thought would be the one to turn their fate around when they picked Nathan MacKinnon first overall.

It did change things but it was brief as they made the playoffs that year and then began missing every other year.

Unlike the Oilers, the Avs have not been the best during the draft as they took the easy picks like Duchene, Landeskog and MacKinnon but have missed on far more.

Players like Joey Hishon, Duncan Siemens and Connor Bleakley saw limited if any time with the Avs and all were essentially wasted picks.

That has hurt the Avs and unless they can figure things out there they will never find their way back to being a competitive team.

This year they are headed to the first overall pick where they will likely need to make a decision as the top pick is up for debate.

Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick are both great players and the Avs will have their choice between the two.

Before that day though the Avs will need to begin building and they seem ready to do just that as they might be in the news a lot in the next month.

Almost all of their players are up for grabs as the Avs start their rebuild by shopping their best players around and kicking the trade deadline talk into high gear.

Overtime
(More on this week in hockey)

New Heights for Ovi
There has been a lot of debate between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin but what can’t be denied is Ovechkin’s ability to score which he displayed this week when he tied Maurice Richard with 544 goals and then scored in his next game to earn his 1,000th point

Stepping Away
It may not be a big deal for NHL fans but for Canadian hockey fans a legend has stepped away as Hayley Wickenheiser officially announced her retirement from the game and will go down as one of the greatest women’s players ever

The Jets’ Worries
The Winnipeg Jets were a team that may not have risen up the standings but were always exciting thanks to their super rookie Patrik Laine but they are without him now after suffering a concussion with his return up in the air

Honouring a Great
For a generation of players Martin St. Louis was evidence that small guys could play in the NHL and they could make an impact and that impact was felt when he had his number retired in Tampa Bay this week

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Key Scores:
Pittsburgh Penguins 6-2 Tampa Bay Lightning
– For the last few years, these teams have been the monsters of the east but things seem to be slightly different now as the Lightning failed to get something started while the Pens continued to show that they are still one of the best

Washington Capitals 4-1 Montreal Canadiens
– The Canadiens are slumping although they still have a big lead in their division and they showed that against the Caps who took the win while Alexander Ovechkin scored his 544th goal tying Montreal legend Maurice “The Rocket” Richard

Washington Capitals 5-2 Pittsburgh Penguins
– It is one of the best modern day rivalries in the game as both teams have had some tough battles with their stars highlighted and this time it was Ovechkin who got the last laugh taking the win and scoring his 1,000th point

Edmonton Oilers 3-2 New Jersey Devils
– It was a shocker this past summer when the Oilers traded away Taylor Hall for relatively little and for the first time since that trade Hall returned to the city where he first lived as an NHL player but he couldn’t get the win

Next Week:
Minnesota Wild vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Sunday, January 15th; 7:00 pm ET)
– It wasn’t supposed to be this way and nobody expected it but the Wild are fighting for first place against a constant contender as they face-off with the Blackhawks looking to take a game in their season-long series

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadiens (Wednesday, January 18th; 7:30 pm ET)
– Two of the top teams in the league square off for a big game as the Canadiens try to break out of their slump while the Penguins try to move up their own division by beating a first place team

Washington Capitals vs. St. Louis Blues (Thursday, January 19th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Caps are firing on all cylinders right now as they continue to move up the standings in their division while the Blues are a part of the very tough Central leaders and both will face off in a meeting of two of the best teams in the league

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Boston Bruins (Friday, January 20th; 7:00 pm ET)
– They may not be in the same spots as they are used to but any time two original six teams get together it is always a good game as the Blackhawks try to hold on to their division lead while the Bruins look to stay near the top of their own

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